Pre-planning my new online business (podcast)

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In this episode I wasn’t ACTUALLY starting my new business yet…but I was definitely thinking about it.

I talk about the initial decisions I made about my business niche, my thoughts about software choices, and the eternal question – should I start a personal brand or find a business name?

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Resources mentioned

I mention the following resources in the podcast when I talk about my software choices.

Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I will receive a commission if you purchase via that link (thanks!) – see my disclosure here.

Some also have a sign-up bonus for you – enjoy 🥳

Cloudways hosting – incredibly fast site hosting

Divi theme – my theme of choice for years, because it can do anything. Lifetime option.

MailerLite – manages my email list. Free to start with.

Thrivecart & Learn+ – essential! Shopping cart, affiliate management, course hosting, and more – and one lifetime cost.

Heartbeat – brilliant community-focused platform with courses, events, and fantastic features.

Podia – if you don’t want to THINK about tech stuff, this is the platform for you. Site, courses, community, coaching, emails – all together and all made incredibly easy.

My Substack, The Anti-Rat

Business Idea Blitz – my free online course that helps you nail your perfect (and profitable) business idea. Quickly, without the analysis paralysis!


Hello, I’m Kelly Kotanidis, and welcome to Online Business from Scratch, where I’m taking you behind the scenes as I build my new online business from scratch to a full-time income while making sure it’s a great fit for my traveling homeschooling life. I’ll be walking you through everything I do and why so you can follow along and build your own flexible online business quickly and efficiently.

So this is my very first update. It’s from 23rd of November 2023. I sold my last business, Fearless Homeschool, about a month ago, and right now I’m technically not working. So I’ve given myself until the end of the year off because I really want and need a break. I’m helping the new owner get set up with Fearless Homeschool; that was part of the contract, and I’m actually really enjoying that. But I’m not nursing or working or doing anything else, really, but I can’t stop my brain from thinking about what business I’m going to start next because I will start one. We really enjoyed what we call magical internet money popping into our account on a regular basis, and so I just keep pottering around for fun, plotting and planning, and generally laying the foundation so that when I’m ready to go, I can just be off and running. If it starts getting stressful or I start feeling pressure, I drop it because I don’t really need that right now.

So here’s where I’m at with my random thoughts. I’ve decided that my topic will be online business with a large passive evergreen component, for families who homeschool or travel. You know, for lots of us, in-person work with a set schedule just isn’t an option. We have kids, we have unpredictable schedules, we have a lot of responsibilities that we can’t really put down. But we can carve out a few hours a week and start a business that’s flexible enough to fit our time and energy levels.

I think the topic will really suit me because it’s just me, basically. It’s the way I’ve always set my life up. It’s life first and everything else fits into that. It needs to be flexible, and I’m really not very good at ramming myself into what I’m meant to do. So when I talk about this, I feel more like I can be myself, and that’s pretty important because I always felt like the homeschool audience was maybe a little more conservative than me or maybe just different, or maybe I just felt uptight, and I was wrong about it. But this feels more like it’s just me. I feel like I can swear and make bad jokes and just relax, and that feels really good.

So I have wanted to teach online business for a couple of years, and it’s something I’ve experimented with a lot. I’m always having business ideas for people. I’ve worked with a lot of the summit presenters on being more businesslike and how they can get better results, and I’ve worked informally with quite a few people over the last few years just because I really enjoy it. I like fixing their problems and coming up with ideas for them and helping them find good software and walking them through how to turn that knowledge into their head into something that they can actually sell. So I find it really rewarding and just fun overall. It’s a topic I could talk about all day.

Now specifically, recently, I’ve been thinking about products I could create because they’re actually really important when you run a business. You know, you need something to sell. I have a bit of an idea of the sort of topics I could cover, so I have a bite-sized productivity course drafted. I’m calling it Productivity for Normal Humans right now because it’s all practicality and no fluff, much like me overall. And I have what will probably turn into a big course about online business foundations, and I’ve basically brain-dumped whatever I think is relevant or useful into each section, and I keep adding notes. It’s a monster, but I’ll keep talking to people and learning what they want and need, and when I’m ready to put it together, it should be a pretty great resource. I’ll be able to pull the really useful course stuff from the doc and put the course together from that, and it’s really good doing it like that because it means my antennae are out. So I’ll read things or I’ll hear a tip on a podcast and I’ll think, “Oh, that’s really relevant to this section,” and I’ll pop it in there. And that’s something you can’t really do overnight. You can’t find all those different ideas and quotes and tie them all together. It takes a bit of time. So it’s all swilling around right now in my very messy monster of Google Doc, but I know it’s going to be good when I’m ready to sort it out.

So if you haven’t already, start yourself a brain dump doc. I have mine on the home screen of my phone so if an idea pops into my head or I hear something, I can note it down right away.

I mentioned talking to people, and I have been doing that. You could call it market research if you want to formalize it, but really, I’ve just been talking to people. I’ve got a site under my name, I’ve got a sign-up page with a waitlist for my not even created online business course, and I did a workshop for a world-schooling Summit a few weeks ago, and I’ve been chatting to people that got on my email list from that Summit, from my Substack, and just people that I’ve talked to and said, “Look, I might be making something that will suit you. Do you want to jump on the list?”

And from all that, I’ve realized that I actually need to go way back, really start with the basics. I did assume to start with that people knew the options about stuff like creating courses or coaching or digital products and what affiliate marketing is, but I found that many people who are interested, they just don’t know those basics. I tend to think it’s because the people who are most vocal about teaching it, especially to travelers, are actually MLMers, and so they’re just trying to sign people up to their downline. They’re not actually teaching useful business skills. So people think that’s all there is, that all they can do is post lots on social media and sell other people’s products, and that’s the only way they can earn money online. So I think I need to do something first up for a small product or freebie or something like that will have to be about the world of possibilities out there.

First of all, I need to educate people on what they can do before they’re going to pay me to show them how to actually do it. And I think the World School Summit Workshop could end up being a great free introductory webinar with some tweaks. And I also met some really fantastic people that I can collaborate with in the future, so it was good to start expanding the community and contacts I have in that area.

I’ve also been thinking about software and how this will all work. So the tech is not scary to me. I’ve been using this stuff for lots of years, and it’s more about making the best decision based on what I think I’ll create. Now I already have Cloudways hosting, I know how to use WordPress, I have a lifetime account for Divi, so I’m all sorted for a site. It doesn’t cost me any extra to whack another site on, and I will use MailerLite for emails. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s a really good solid option with fantastic features, so I’m sticking with it because I have no urge at all to experiment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Tech-wise, I’m not entirely sure what to use for my courses and products. I did use ThriveCart and Learn+ at Fearless Homeschool, and overall, I was happy with that. I’ve also used Podia in the past, which is another great option. But I also have a lifetime license to Heartbeat, and I’m leaning towards that as an all-in-one solution. So on Heartbeat, I can have courses but also digital downloads and events and all sorts of different formats plus chat and community, and after putting together the membership for the Australian Homeschool Summit, I really like the format of having a large number of resources available for people. I like creating things and having something like that where I can make a planner or an ebook or a mini-course or host a workshop and have it automatically added to people’s resources all within the same platform with the ability to talk about it all. So that sounds really good to me. I think there’s a good chance I will use Heartbeat, maybe with ThriveCart as a shopping cart.

But I can’t really make that decision properly until I decide what I’m actually going to create, so I’m not going to think about it anymore right now. I have a couple of good options, so I need to work more on the overall site and product set up, and that’s a good lesson for you too. It can be really, really easy to get swamped in the tech options. I know I have in the past. You get lost in the research and just overwhelmed by it all. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter that much. You need to get your plan sorted first. You need to know what you’re actually going to be putting in there, what it’s going to look like, and then you just pick something that will work for what you’re planning to do right now because your tech setup is really dependent on what you’re actually doing. And you can always change it if it doesn’t work in the future or if it’s a bother. Like, I went from Teachable to Podia to self-hosted on WordPress to ThriveCart Learn over the years. I’ve pretty much tried it all. But we have so many great options and they’re pretty affordable, so really, whatever you choose should work for you for a long time. And if it doesn’t, just swap. Swapping is a bit of work, but it’s really doable. So don’t start stressing about all your tech stuff and what you’re going to use before you even have something to put on it. You can do all your work in Google Docs to start with, and that will be perfectly fine.

All right, last thing and something that I’m kind of obsessing over is a name. So I could use mine, but Kotanidis is really hard for non-Greek people to spell or pronounce, and I kind of like having a business name too for it not to be all about me. And I did just sell my other business, so not having me as a central personality and being a personal brand does leave it open for me to sell in the future if I choose to. And I would really like to come up with something to do with the lifestyle I’m talking about. So something to do with freedom or offbeat or lifestyle design or unconventional. But I find that most of my ideas sound like some embarrassingly ra-ra influencer saying, “Live Your Dream Life,” which is just so not me. Or the names that I like, they’re already taken. So I’m a bit stuck there, but I’m sure something will pop up by the time I need it. If not, I would just call it something boring and descriptive like Online Business School because I don’t think it matters that much, the name overall.

So that’s pretty good progress, I think, considering I’m not actually meant to be doing anything. Time-wise, I did spend a couple of sessions making my World Schooling Summit Workshop, but that was enjoyable, and the rest of the time has really just been for fun. I spent a few sessions just writing, getting the business foundations course outline and filling it in, putting together the productivity course, having an idea for something and spending an hour researching it. But it’s just been in my spare time. It’s fun, it’s play, there’s no pressure right now, so it hasn’t felt like work. It’s actually been really, really good, and I’m slowly getting my outline and foundations down, and I know the time that I’m spending observing and thinking and reading books and talking to people is going to be really valuable in the long run.

So there you have it, the first update of how I’ve built this thing that you’re now using. I do have a free course up now called the Business Idea Blitz, so if you’re wondering how you even choose your idea in the first place, that is a really, really great resource. You will go through and you will brainstorm and then you’ll narrow things down, and then you’ll assess your ideas until you come out at the other end with your really great online business idea. So the link to that will be in the show notes. Please go and sign up for that if you’re interested in starting a business. That planning time, as I was saying in the podcast, will be the best time that you ever spend on your business. If you get that right from the start, then everything is so much easier.

So I really hope you’ve enjoyed that. Please let me know. I love hearing from you, and I will see you for the next episode.

Thanks for listening!

Got any questions? Feel free to to drop them in the comments below.

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